• 5th Birthday Party Report

    Posted by Micah

    1 June, 2010

    By Carlyn Chen, TEAR Australia

    From market stalls to city squares, from jumping castles to church morning teas, "Survive Past Five Birthday Parties" are being thrown in all shapes and sizes around
    the country.

    Micah Challenge is focusing on the two Millennium Development Goals that are most at risk of not being achieved - Goal 4, Reduce Child Mortality, and Goal 5, Improve Maternal Health. Recent reports have shown progress towards both of these goals, but there is still much more to be done to hit the targets set in the year 2000. Australia still does not contribute its fair share to achieving these goals - so our communities are speaking up.

    Grassroots campaigners use "Survive Past 5 Birthday Parties" to communicate creatively to our MPs that Australians want our nation's leaders to keep their commitments to the global poor. The celebratory aspects of the parties affirm the importance of children and set a vision for a world where every child can survive beyond the first five high-risk years of life. The serious aspects call people to speak up - to those around them, to the local media, and to our politicians to take action to reduce child mortality globally. The campaign is calling on the Foreign Minister to increase Australia's giving to child, maternal, and basic health programs to our "fair share" by the 2011/2012 budget.

    TEAR supporters tell their stories of birthday parties:

    Western Australia - Bouncy Castles and MPs
    The Northern TEAR Group in Western Australia ran a "Survive Past 5" birthday party in January complete with cake, kids and a bouncy castle. Dr Mal Washer, the Federal Member for Moore, attended and encouraged those present to continue lobbying politicians to ensure Australia increased its overseas giving. The sound of kids laughing and playing was the perfect backdrop for lighting 5 candles on a cake as a symbolic prayer for the health of mothers and children in the developing world. Attendees also signed a fifth birthday card as a show of support for the MDGs. According to Beldon's Minister, Rev Dennis Doust, "the party was an excellent opportunity to speak up and use our voices for the many people around the world who are denied the basics of life. It's also a great reminder of just how blessed we are in this country, and the responsibility that carries."

    New South Wales - Martin Place
    In Martin Place, the middle of corporate Sydney, we set up a stall with a series of informative signs about child and maternal health issues and their solutions. We approached people asking them to sign birthday cards, and a number of them also agreed to have their photo taken to send along to their local MP. A few school groups who visited the MDG exhibition took our child health quiz, and when they heard some of the answers,
    they decided to organise their own birthday parties at their schools!

    South Australia - Party Games at Church
    On 21 March, Hewett Community Church of Christ hosted a party, with cake, a couple of games and plenty of cards to sign. It wasn't an ordinary birthday party, but one to remind people of the significance of reaching their 5th birthday. A number of statistics were shown and some anecdotes told about what it is like to live in a place where not all children reach 5 years of age. We played "Pin the baby on the mother" and "Pass the parcel" amongst the congregation. Each layer had a chocolate and a verse about God's justice that was read out aloud. In May we are planning to visit our local Federal Member of Parliament with another cake, our signed cards and some photos to pass on to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.

    TEAR Women's Action Group Adelaide - Mums & Bubs Market
    The TEAR Women's Action Group in Adelaide are a small group of women who desire to understand the reality of women's lives around the world and in our localities, raise awareness of the needs of women and mothers in particular and give of ourselves and our privileges to help empower women. We have focused on maternal health issues and
    supporting TEAR's project partner: The Welfare Association for Children, Tikapur (NEPAL). We have joined forces with the Survive Past Five campaign to raise awareness through bi-monthly stalls at a local Mums & Bubs Markets. We put together our first stall in March and it was a lovely success, generating many conversations, signings of 5th birthday cards, munching on "Pregnant Lady" gingerbreads, fundraising through pre-loved baby gear, and networking with other stall holders for our 5th Birthday Party later in the year. We have all realised the importance of keeping maternal health issues in our thoughts and prayers and in the minds of others, especially mothers here in Adelaide.
    Mothers are very keen to support other mothers so there is a lovely, gentle rhythm emerging. What a privilege it is to speak up for our sisters around the world.

    It's not too late to throw your own 5th Birthday Party. Micah Challenge wants every MP to hear the message before the 2010 election that the Australian public cares about this issue. Find out about parties near you or download a party planning guide at www.micahchallenge.org.au/fifthbirthdayaction

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    This article originally appeared in TEAR Australia's ChangeMakers Journal